State football title out of Demons’ grasp
Playing with house money as the 15th seed, Sterling went all in. The Tigers could have played it conservatively and kicked an extra point after matching a Glenwood Springs touchdown in overtime, but Sterling’s seniors gave the green light to go for a win with a two-point conversion. Stocky running back Lee Meisner rose to the challenge, pounding home the game winner as the visiting Tigers brought an abrupt and devastating end to top-ranked Glenwood Springs’ season with a 28-27 football win on Saturday.”We just asked the seniors,” said Meisner, himself a senior. “We had nothing to lose. If that’s the way it ended, we were happy.”Tigers coach Mark Bauder was more than happy to leave the call up to his seniors by calling for Meisner’s plunge over right tackle.”It’s their team,” he said. “It’s a play we’ve had success with. The kids felt real comfortable with it.”The roll of the dice paid off in a big way for 7-4 Sterling, which moves on to face Berthoud in the second round of the Class 3A state playoffs next week.Expectations were high entering the playoffs for the Demons, who entered the day 10-0, ranked No. 1 in Class 3A by RockyPreps and as the No. 2 seed in the state playoffs. A poor second half – littered with turnovers, stalled drives and missed field goals – is what cut a promising playoff run short.”It’s tough,” said Glenwood coach Rocky Whitworth, shellshocked and fresh off consoling his distraught players. Few Demons weren’t shedding tears in the daze of defeat. “Well, it’s just sad that this is it. It’s very tough. It’s very bitter. We had our chances.”Whitworth’s Demons seemed to have the game in hand early, taking a 20-6 lead into halftime. Jordan Ciani got the ball rolling on Glenwood’s first drive, capping an eight-play, 41-yard drive with a 3-yard TD dive.That came on the heels of a big defensive stop that included Lance Tsosie bringing down Quwuan Carrillo in the backfield for a 7-yard loss on a screen pass.Sterling flexed its resolve moments later with a 12-play drive that covered 62 yards. Carrillo put the exclamation mark on the march with a 2-yard TD scamper with 10 minutes and 58 seconds left in the second quarter. Weston Vordeberg missed the extra point to leave that score at 7-6.
Glenwood closed the half with a bang, though, striking for two second-quarter scores. Quarterback Dakota Stonehouse ran in the first one from a yard out, a score set up by a 65-yard pass from Stonehouse to Riley a play earlier. Riley hauled in a pass over the middle at about the Sterling 35-yard line, then dragged several defenders down to the 1.Junior Kevin Screen missed what would prove to be a pivotal extra point as Glenwood went up 13-6.A Sterling turnover led to the next Demon TD, which came with 16 seconds left in the half. The Glenwood offense stalled out on its next drive, but the Tigers’ Cole Honstead muffed a punt catch and Screen was there to recover to set up a second-chance drive at the Sterling 34-yard line.Seven plays later, Stonehouse hit 6-foot-8 Donnie Jennert in the back of the end zone with a 10-yard TD pass. The junior quarterback had to scramble a bit to make it happen, dancing right in the pocket and then spotting his wide-open teammate before putting both feet into a bulleted pass.That was the last time Glenwood would see the end zone in regulation.Sterling jumped out of the gates in the second half, stripping Stonehouse and recovering a fumble on the Demons’ opening drive. The resulting Tiger possession ended in a 41-yard TD strike from quarterback Jacob Richards to Carrillo.Carrillo’s third TD of the day was the equalizer, and it came with 3:57 left in the third quarter when he darted in from 2 yards out. The senior back filled up the box score, finishing with 47 yards rushing on 10 carries in addition to his TD reception.Glenwood, typically a prolific second-half team, could not get it done down the stretch. Two red-zone trips yielded no points, and Taylor Parsons missed two fourth-quarter field goal tries as regulation ended in a 20-all tie. The Demons converted on 31 of 37 of trips to the red zone (84 percent) in the regular season.
Sterling won the overtime coin toss and gave Glenwood the first try at a score. Colorado high school overtime resembles that of college football, with teams alternating possessions starting at the other team’s 10-yard line with four downs to score.Glenwood needed just one play to put the first overtime points on the board, with Stonehouse finding Screen in the left flat on a TD pass. Screen added the extra point as the Demons went up 27-20.The Tigers, too, needed just a single play to post a TD, with Richards rifling a pass to Honstead.Then came the fateful decision to go for two. Sterling initially lined up for an extra point, then called a timeout. It was then that the packed house at Stubler Memorial Field knew what was coming.”They’re going for two?” Glenwood’s sideline questioned in unison as the whistle blew.”Once they called the timeout we were ready for it,” Screen said. “We were shocked they were going to go for the win.”Meisner took care of the rest, dragging several defenders into the end zone and leaving a stunned Demon team in his wake. Just about every member of Glenwood’s defensive unit dropped to their knees in shock. Still, the Demons realized they’d taken a major step in the name of a program that had made the playoffs just once since 1991 and hadn’t run the table on the regular season since 1979. By winning the 3A Western Slope League, Glenwood won its first-ever league crown as a 3A football school.”We’re still proud of ourselves,” Screen said. “We have to keep our heads high. We’re the first league champs in a while, but it’s tough to go out in the first round.”Graduating just 11 seniors, Glenwood is well tooled for 2008. Much of the Demons’ talent lies in the school’s junior class, including Stonehouse, who wrapped up Saturday with 204 yards on 17-of-29 passing.Still, Whitworth would have liked his team to log just a little more postseason experience in 2007.”You know, you just hope you could get a little more experience in the playoffs,” he said. “It’s unfortunate we couldn’t get at least one more game.”
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I’m not often given to public displays of affection, but on the morning of Monday, July 19, I felt it necessary to give an old and dear friend a proper send off.